by Lisa Grimaldi | September 01, 2010

To counteract several years of falling casino revenues and increased competition, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in July backed a plan put forward by the state's Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission to create a state-operated tourism district in Atlantic City. The district, which would include the gaming resorts, the Boardwalk and the Atlantic City Convention Center, would be overseen by a state-run body, to be launched by July 2011.

One of plan's main goals is to increase convention business in the Atlantic City market by at least 30 percent per year for the next five years. At a July press conference, Christie said that the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, which currently markets the destination and the convention center, would be folded into the new tourism district.

Casino gaming accounts for nearly $1 billion in state and local taxes and more than $2 billion in revenues spread across more than 2,000 businesses, according to the gaming commission. However, since 2007, the industry has been in decline, losing more than 25 percent of its gross revenue base, equating to $1 billion in lost revenues.

For its part, the commission noted that "immediate attention must be directed at stabilizing the [gaming] industry before efforts can be made to improve it."